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Belichick, Brady an Unmatchable Coach/Quarterback Combo in NFL Annals

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Belichick, Brady an Unmatchable Coach/Quarterback Combo in NFL Annals

Six Super Bowls in nine appearances across 18 seasons.

These numbers alone are staggering without considering all the other accomplishments the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots have racked up over the years. With six championships, Brady now has more NFL championship rings than any other player in NFL history. Belichick, in capturing his sixth ring as a head coach, ties Bears founder George Halas. Add in his two rings as a coordinator with the Giants, and he’s already blown past them all.

It seems is a constant chicken/egg debate when it comes to Belichick and Brady among those looking to detract from their accomplishments. Did Belichick benefit from having the greatest quarterback of all time for 18 years, or has Brady benefited from working with the greatest coach of all time (and one of the league’s all-time defensive masterminds) for his entire career?

Both of these things can very well be true without detracting from what the pair has accomplished. Because, simply put, there is no other coach/quarterback combo in NFL history who can measure up to the standard Brady and Belichick have set.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more successful duos in NFL history before these two came along.

Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi: 1959-1967

Starr and Lombardi accomplished a still-unmatched five championships in seven years together, which before Brady and Belichick was the record for most championships by a coach/quarterback tandem. The Packer dynasty of the 1960s was incredibly influential, and Lombardi rightfully has his name emblazoned on the trophy given to Super Bowl champions every year.

This is the pair that comes the closest to matching what Brady and Belichick accomplished. But if we’re being forced to choose the more successful pair, we have to take the following factors into consideration:

·         The 60s Packers were playing against significantly fewer teams and a lower standard of competition

·         Free agency and the salary cap, systems designed specifically to create parity in the NFL, did not yet exist when Lombardi’s Packers ran the league

·         Today’s NFL requires significantly more adaptability, in large part because of those first two points

While Starr and Lombardi will forever be remembered as pioneers of the modern league and as two of the greatest champions the NFL has ever seen, what Belichick and Brady have accomplished is undoubtedly more impressive given the circumstances they face in today’s league.

Joe Montana and Bill Walsh, 1979-1988

Over the course of 10 seasons together, Montana and Walsh won three Super Bowl titles. The year after Walsh retired, the 49ers and Montana won another under George Seifert.

Before the later stages of Brady’s career, Montana was a popular pick for the greatest quarterback of all time. But Brady has long since surpassed Montana in just about every metric. Walsh’s contributions to the game, unlike Belichick’s, are primarily on the offensive side of the ball—he’ll forever be remembered for popularizing the West Coast Offense and making significant advances in the passing game.

Ultimately, though, Brady and Belichick now have twice the number of championships this Hall of Fame duo had together.

Otto Graham and Paul Brown, 1946-1955

Graham and Brown actually won a total of seven championships together, but four of those came in the AAFC (1946-1949), before the Browns joined the NFL. The level of competition in the AAFC simply was not comparable to that of the NFL, and there were only eight teams. The Browns won the league championship in all four years of its existence.

True enough that the Browns quickly proved they belonged in the NFL, winning the championship in their first season in the league (1950) and then again in 1954 and 1955, Graham’s final season.

A remarkably successful duo, but just as the NFL of the 1950s and 1960s is not comparable to the level of parity and competition that exists in today’s league, one can hardly place the AAFC on the same level as the NFL in the late 1940s.

Roger Staubach and Tom Landry, 1969-1979

Staubach and Landry reached five Super Bowls together in their tenures with the Dallas Cowboys, an impressive figure to be sure. However, the pair only won two of them. Nothing to be sneezed at, but it can’t come close to measuring up to the six championships in nine appearances that the combination of Brady and Belichick has accrued.

Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll, 1970-1983

Four Super Bowl appearances, four Super Bowl championships. Noll and Bradshaw definitely brought plenty of hardware home to Pittsburgh in their time together. But no serious person is going to put Bradshaw in the same stratosphere as Brady with regard to their greatness.

Bradshaw is a worthy Hall of Famer, but would likely rank in the lower tier of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Even compared to his contemporaries, he threw a lot of interceptions and had a relatively low completion percentage. Brady hasn’t just been a winner—he’s also been a statistical phenom for much of his career.

 

I fully understand and sympathize with people being sick of the Patriots winning so damn much. But count me in the camp who believes that decades from now, people will be looking back at what this team has accomplished in awe, and count themselves privileged to have witnessed it.

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

LayingTheLawe's picture

Ok I will admit it I am stil a little girl. I glanced quickly at the headline and saw Brady, belichick and something about anal?

Jonathan Spader's picture

Out of those 3 words which got you to click the link LtL? That'll tell us a lot about the little girl lol.

D Ernie's picture

Great article. I thought the Steelers team with Bradshaw may be the best ever when you look at the hof`s on that team. But, there were fewer teams and players rarely moved around. You had people pretty much unable to move so their was non parity in its glory.
With all that, I too put what the pats have done in the modern era as phenomenal. Maybe nothing like this again.
I mean they are favorites to win it next year already.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Coming off seasons of 1056, 972, 692, and in 2016, 1106 receiving yards, Edelman signed a contract for $5.5M AAV. The super bowl MVP had 850 yards in 12 regular season games and averaged 129 yds per game in NE's 3 playoff games (388 receiving yards), all while playing for a cap hit of $4.07M. In 2019, Edelman's cap charge will be $4.54M.

Sigh.

MarkinMadison's picture

Their accomplishments will always be a bit tarnished to me. We know they cheated to win their first Super Bowl. We know McDaniels was caught taping in Denver.years later. Then deflate gate. I get that there is always some form of cheating going on (speed in the 60s in baseball, PEDs, etc, now), but as far as I know the Lombardi years in Green Bay were pretty damn clean. Steroids weren't a thing yet, and the money was not so incredibly large that people were willing to sacrifice their integrity. People can look at it however they want, but if they ever started calling it the Belichick trophy I'd quit watching football.

HankScorpio's picture

The Super Bowl MVP served 4 games for PEDs at the start of this season. In baseball, that makes one ineligible for the post-season. It's a shame football doesn't take cheating as seriously.

dobber's picture

Welcome to BeanheadTV.com. ;)

Handsback's picture

Tim a very good and concise article and great catch on the Browns. Most people forget about the Browns, but they were the Packers/Steelers during their heyday. The only question I have is the lower standard of competition the Packers faced verses the Patriots, which I disagree with. Fewer teams didn't mean the standard of competition was lower...it meant that they had fewer playoff games.
Fewer teams equated to all the teams had good RBs, QBs, and WRs. The draft was 15 rounds (I think) so every team had talent. This was the time-frame I became a football fan and the most prominent saying by coaches and writers was that the talent between the teams was very small, it was who could get the most out of their players. So fewer teams didn't mean a lower standard of competition, just that every game counted.
The biggest mistake is to take today's game and relate it to different eras. You can't do it. The duos listed are the most dominating in their eras. It just so happens that the Patriots era is lasting longer then any other team to date and that may never be duplicate.

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah. The article is spot on. I hate everything. Pats suck.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Love em or hate em the Patriots are a successful team under Belichick and Brady. I doubt any team will ever match the success rate of this duo. And it isn't over yet. Brady wants to play until he is 45, another 4 years? To go to the the Super Bowl 9 times in, what 18 years? And win 6 of them. To bad they weren't called Super Bowls from the very beginning. Including the 4 Super Bowls, along with the NFL Championship games, Green bay would have 13 of them. I salute the Patriots success. But I will remain a Packer fan for life.

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